From Broken Hill to West Lakers, Taylor Walker’s rise has been steady.
After being a NSW Scholarship selection in the 2007 draft, Walker bided his time before becoming a prominent member of the Adelaide Crows’ forward line.
He didn’t debut until his second season, and while there were some road bumps along the way, he would eventually assert himself as one of the most dominant forwards.
It was season 2015 where he officially announced himself after being appointed skipper. Since then, his game has flourished with the extended leadership role.
In just his second year leading the Adelaide Crows, Taylor Walker has claimed the Best Captain Award, present by L’Oreal Men Expert.
As part of the process, all captains were nominated for the honour, but Walker’s peers deemed him to be the best leader in 2016.
Speaking to Aflplayers.com.au, teammate and close friend, Rory Sloane described the influence that ‘Tex’ has over the playing group.
“Throughout my career, I’ve seen different stages where Tex has stood up in big games,” Sloane explained.
“His ability to lead in critical moments is one of his best attributes.”
Over the course of the last 12-18 months, the Crows have been faced with serious adversity.
The passing of Phil Walsh in June, 2015 left an indelible mark on the playing group. During that time, Walker was required to lead from the front, and apply the requisite care for his hurting teammates.
“Going through that sort of adversity last year took not only the captain, but every senior member including coaches and staff to get everyone through,” Sloane added.
“Tex was able to delegate some responsibility to a lot of the other leaders.”
Some leaders provide strong vocal guidance, whereas others are more inclined to lead with their actions. Walker, however, possesses both in abundance.
The average punter will see the chest out, the long goals from outside 50, and the raw physicality that he plays with.
But inside the four walls, his voice is heard.
“Good leaders ask questions of the group, and they try and get guys to deliver answers rather than showing them the answers,” Sloane explained.
“He’ll ask the right questions to try and get guys to think of answers. It might be to do with structure or certain decisions — then he gets the playing group to come up with reasons as to why certain things are occurring.
“When we’re in the locker room, Tex shows off his great character because he’s still one of the biggest larrikins around the footy club. It’s important to make sure guys are having a laugh.”
With so many influential captains in the league, it’s easy to make comparisons with current players. However, it’s a former key forward and skipper that Sloane believes draws parallels with Tex.
“I remember hearing stories about Jonathan Brown being really vocal and demanding of his teammates, and that’s what I think of Tex. He’s that big power forward who knows what he wants from every player, and he articulates that.
“He demands the best out of guys on game day and at training.”
Walker now joins two-time winner Mark Ricciuto as the only Adelaide captains to claim the award.
“He’s so proud to be our skipper,” Sloane added.
“He’s definitely honoured to receive this award — he looks up to guys like Nick Riewoldt and all of the influential leaders of the game.”
BEST CAPTAIN VOTES FOR 2016
1) Taylor Walker 127 votes
2) Nick Riewoldt – 111 votes
3) Callan Ward – 109 votes
4) Luke Hodge – 76 votes
5) Joel Selwood – 61 votes